August 30, 2015: Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. – For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. –
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.
You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
He summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.
“From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)
Simple answer regarding hand washing is that it can help prevent disease.
Jesus’ words were really more about character as revealed through one’s actions. Each of us will face times in our lives when others hurt us deeply. Will we return hurt for the pain we suffer? If we choose to do so, inside we have first decided how to do what will be painful for the other. Only then do we act. Jesus’ words are a reminder to be on guard. Even if we are tempted to harm another, we can stop at the thought. Our anger will fade. We will not do anything wrong.
Now comes the tougher part. Jesus calls each of us to aid Him in transforming our world. Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” That part of our brain that decides what will hurt another person is also the part that can find what will help the other person. When his/her pain is gone, he/she is no longer an enemy. In fact, he/she may become a friend.
Jesus has placed the choice in our hands. Which type of person do we wish to be?
Pray for a person who has hurt you. That peaceful feeling that enters your heart is God’s love.